I can read your mind. You don’t believe me? I can! Let me prove it.
Let’s say that you are in a heated argument with your pal and you are in a situation where, in your defence, you are compelled to think of something that makes you proud to be the citizen of India? What’s the first thing that pops up in your mind? Or at least one of the things that come to your mind? Was the successful accomplishment of the mission to the red planet one of them? Now that I have read your mind, let’s move forward.
I’m going to talk about someone. She is a woman who dresses up in saris or kurtis for the majority of the time and occasionally enjoys complementing her attire with flowers. She is a mother of two, who wakes up at 4 to accompany her daughters who are studying and nourishes her partner with affection and care. In other words, a woman we come across in our life on a daily basis. But, she is also a woman who was fascinated by the science-fiction movie star trek and, the passion for exploring the cosmic neighbourhood followed. She did not let the fanaticism ebb away and made it a goal to make sure that it thrived. She was courageous enough to decide to pursue rocket science as her career and ended up in ISRO on her first try. She has worked on over 16 projects over 20 years and Mangalyaan is close to her heart. She has spent endless hours nurturing it. She says, “It is a lot easier to raise children. Mars Orbiter Mission requires huge planning and it has been a huge learning experience for us. We had to plan for the nominal operations and we had to prepare for the contingencies. It has been exciting but it has also been extremely tough”. India’s MOM mission to Mars was designed, planned and launched in 15 months with a budget of only US $70 million whereas NASA’s Maven mission to Mars cost $671 million and she is the women behind it.
In a world that preaches rocket science isn’t apt for women, she challenged the fundamental notion of it. She is a woman who had her own dreams to accomplish. She is a woman who has a family that needs to be taken care of but did not let that stop her from reaching the pinnacle of success in her career. She is the woman who operated the spacecraft between Earth and Mars. She is a woman in ‘Power’. She is Nandini Harinath. She is the Project Manager, Mission Design, and Deputy Operations Director of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), ISRO.
Recognition doesn’t come easy, for men or women. With various stereotypes infecting the minds of women, they begin restraining themselves from taking the road less travelled. They believe that they will be disconnected from their family and the society they belong to if they take a step forward in the road that they want to travel in. It is a myth, a myth that needs to be fractured. The fundamental faith that women have in them needs to be reshaped to empower them. They need to believe that they can, to instil audacity in their hearts that in turn, will bring out the daring side of them.
Empowering women doesn’t only involve attaining equality between men and women. It involves her breaking free of her barriers and exposing herself to the tools of empowerment and finally, grabbing every opportunity in her journey. She must establish an identity for herself and eventually recognition will follow.
To all the women out there, a lady’s brain is an absolute treasure. Each time a gem pops out, it leaves the world dumbstruck. So now that this lady has left her bright footprints on untrodden paths, I’m sure many witty successors shall soon bloom to carry the legacy on. It is not the society that has oppressed you, it is thyself. Breaking free begins from changing your mindset. Nandini draws an analogy with the work she does, the MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) exited the Earth’s sphere of influence and reached its target orbit around Mars after a series of well planned and executed manoeuvres. Similarly for a woman to reach her destination, she needs to exit the stereotypical sphere of influence around her and design her trajectory to make “that giant leap”.
The question isn’t who’s going to let you, it is who’s going to stop you.